Stinky, dark discharge is flowing from the pet food factory into a stream, according to the state. Company fined.

A dark, smelly liquid that leaked from a pet food factory has led to enforcement action against the factory after months of investigation and a pile of complaints about polluted streams in rural South Carolina.

The state environmental agency fined SC Pet Food Solutions $20,000 for spills that state inspectors say were washed off property and into a small stream in Saluda County , according to an application document published this week.

The stream is a tributary of larger streams that state records show were contaminated with harmful bacteria last summer. A large creek downstream from the pet food factory – Mine Creek – was covered in pea-green slime and emanated an odor that neighbors described as foul. Before the foam formed, the water had turned black, residents said.

Many people said they were concerned about the plant’s impact on the quiet farming community before it opened about five years ago. Despite their reservations, state regulators approved the plant, saying it had adequate pollution controls.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control did not respond Friday to questions from the state about a link between the pet food plant and pollution of major streams. But Mine Creek is connected to another major waterway, Dry Creek, which the enforcement order said was receiving discharges from the pet food factory site.

The enforcement action said the company violated state pollution control law by allowing polluted runoff to leave areas approved for waste disposal.

SC Pet Food Solutions paid the fine, a DHEC spokeswoman said. A spokeswoman for 3D Corporate Solutions, a partner of the pet food factory, declined to comment. Efforts to reach Amick Farms, the other partner, were not immediately successful. Pet Food Solutions did not admit wrongdoing but agreed to the enforcement actions in an effort to resolve the issue with DHEC, records show.

An area resident whose father lives near Mine Creek said the problem was an ordeal. But since the state inspected the area and began discussing the problem with Pet Foods Inc late last summer, the slime has disappeared from the creek, he said.

“As someone who lives downstream, I’m glad DHEC took this seriously enough to look into the issue,” said James Edwards, an area resident whose father’s house backs onto Mine Creek. Since DHEC stepped in, “I haven’t seen anything comparable” to the creek’s pollution last summer, he said.

A stream near a pet food factory in Saluda County turned black in the summer of 2023

The Pet Food Solutions plant, located in the small Saluda County community of Ward, is a large plant that processes byproducts from chicken processing plants to make protein meals for pet food. Amick is a major poultry processor in South Carolina and 3D is a national pet food company.

DHEC’s action follows multiple inspections and field visits last year by agency staff in response to complaints about stream pollution.

The department’s enforcement order said some of the creek’s pollution was linked to wastewater treatment problems and discharges from the company’s waste disposal system. The agency said it found foamy, cloudy sewage, with large mats of black solids and “globular-like materials.” This indicates a problem in the processing process, the department said.

Pet Foods Inc. said it experienced excess solids in its waste stream after one of the processing ponds was taken out of service, per DHEC’s order.

DHEC said some spray fields where wastewater is spread were saturated when inspectors were on site last spring. The area where the sewage was sprayed also had several pond discharge pipes, the decree states.

The idea of ​​spraying sewage in fields is to let the material soak into the ground, rather than channeling it into a river. But the system will fail if too much wastewater is sprayed or piped onto the land, which can cause it to flow off the property and into waterways.

During the May 17 visit during which the saturated fields and pipes were discovered, agency staff saw “several discharges from the site entering an unnamed tributary of Dry Creek,” the order states. ‘execution. “The discharge was dark in color and had an odor.”

In addition to the $20,000 fine, DHEC’s enforcement action requires the company to, among other things, submit a plan to correct the problems, remove all remaining discharge pipes related to the waste ponds and evaluate the efficiency of the treatment system.

A Saluda County dog ​​food factory is warning the public to stay away from its property.  SC Pet Food Solutions is getting the attention of people upset about a polluted creek.  Photo taken on August 10, 2023

A Saluda County dog ​​food factory is warning the public to stay away from its property. SC Pet Food Solutions is getting the attention of people upset about a polluted creek. Photo taken on August 10, 2023

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